We are living in a time when militarism has polluted almost every aspect of our leisure time from film, television, music, sports, news, charities and of course politics. These days simply seeing a camouflage pattern against our country’s flag is enough to send the sheep-like masses into a jingoistic frenzy. These mindless drones fail to understand however that every time they watch a pro-war movie, clap at a flyover, or emblazon their car window with a “Help For Heroes” sticker they have effectively become a promoter and perpetuator of bloodshed and conflict. On top of this puffery from the public, the Army too are incessantly marketing themselves. Army recruitment advertisements have ranged from “Are You Doing All You Can?” to “Uphold Our Honor” to the downright repulsive “Stay On The Job Until Every Murdering Jap Is Wiped Out!” during the Second World War. In recent years it has transformed into “Be All You Can Be” or “Be The Best” and contemporary Army propaganda has followed this path of promoting a superior, noble, patriotic superhuman for some time now. But only when the actual horrors of war are revealed do the public think about what they so willingly endorsed and encouraged, the truth is much different than the advert.
The “Don’t Join The Army” campaign has to be one of the most detestable advertisements in recent years. The ad preys on people’s doubts about warmongering and militarism, it guilt trips people and encourages them to think twice about their gut feelings, it tries to distract us from the carnage and the sheer pointlessness of war by employing a horrid form of reverse psychology and an odiously condescending tone. All in all, the ad represents everything that is wrong with military propaganda.
After 9/11, the Iraq and Afghan wars, and the unfolding conflict in Syria, the public’s perception of the military has become quite rightly one of consternation and dissatisfaction at the whole never-ending war machine, the pretence of “liberty” and “freedom” is now fading to reveal the truth of war; profit and Imperialism. We now know all too well that warmongering and militarism only gives birth to more war and a greater need for the military. So while members of the Royal Family are flanked by security, real troops are sent to die whilst doing the bidding of some corrupt bureaucrat or cowardly politician. If our leaders want peace like they’ve been claiming for the past decade and a half, then why not promote goodwill and amity instead of combat and warfare? If our leaders so desperately want war, maybe they should fight it themselves, and I don’t mean “fight” in the Prince Harry pantomime way. If all these sabre-rattling ministers and Princes had to genuinely fight their own battles, maybe then they would think twice about their actions, re-evaluate their foreign policy, and reconsider their relationship with other countries.
How many wars are we going to fight before the masses realise that war isn’t virtuous? If the military’s true intentions were to protect our nation and act as an example of morality and bravery, surely the last thing they should do is attack people who are unconnected to their current dispute, torture a few of them, intern some of them indefinitely, and use drones to drop bombs on their families. These are not the actions of an Army whose members are supposed to be a paradigm of courage and integrity.
The next time you see one of these propaganda campaigns, take no notice, they may dangle education, prospects, travel, and all manners of deceit to entice you in, but they fail to tell you the truth, that you are merely expendable cannon fodder, a tiny insignificant cog in the conveyor belt of colonialism. So if you want to be the governments’ attack dog, if you want to be complicit in evil and wrongdoing join the Army, but if you have self-respect, if you like to think for yourself, if you enjoy having a sane mind and functioning limbs, do what the ad says…
Don’t Join The Army.